Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate and raspberries are a match made in heaven. Don’t you think? I first made this chocolate tart back in May 2013 with dark 70% cocoa chocolate and roasted hazelnuts and it was delicious. Consequently when I needed a delicious but easy dessert my mind went back to this amazing tart. While I loved the bitterness of the dark chocolate this time what was needed was something more subtle.  So I reduced the chocolate and used a more mild and slightly sweet 60% cocoa chocolate, added raspberry jam to the base and, most of all, fresh raspberries on top. This tart is perfect for summer and Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate and Raspberry Tart


The beauty of the tart is that the base is so easy, being prepared with biscuit crumbs. There is no messing with rolling out pastry and trying to ease it into the pan! There is no worry about the pastry shrinking or becoming tough!

Raspberry Jam spread into the base of tart

Finally. the filling is super easy! Just beat all the ingredients together. No fear of curdled or scorched custard. Just a smooth decadent filling which will impress your guests! Guaranteed!

Go on, try it! There is only one week until the big day!

Pouring chocolate filling over raspberry jam


Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

For the base:

250g plain biscuits crumbs ( I used up whatever was lurking in the pantry – savoiardi, amaretti and some plain sweet biscuits all whizzed in the food processor)
50g ground hazelnuts
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 icing (confectioners) sugar
130g butter, at room temperature
Combine everything in the food processor and whizz until it all comes together. Coat an 11inch/28cm tart pan with a removable base with non-stick cooking spray. Then press the base mixture evenly over the base and sides using the back of a spoon to help you. You can let it set in the refrigerator.

For the filling:

1 cup good raspberry jam
250g dark chocolate 60%, broken up
2 cups cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
50ml Frangelico liqueur
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Take the prepared tart base out of the refrigerator. Warm the raspberry jam slightly in the microwave until it loosens a little and carefully spread the base with raspberry jam.
Heat the cream until it bubbles (you can do this in the microwave). Add the chocolate to the cream and allow to sit for 3 or 4 minutes. Take a whisk and start slowly mixing the cream and chocolate until it is smooth and well combined. Cool a little so that the eggs don’t scramble.
Add the eggs, vanilla, Frangelico and salt. Whisk well.
Pour this mixture into your prepared tart pan. I had a small, maybe a couple of spoonfuls, amount of mixture left over that didn’t fit into the tart pan. Remember not to overfill because we need to add the topping. Carefully transfer to your hot oven and bake undisturbed for 25 minutes. Allow the tart to cool for about 15 minutes then transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely.

For the ganache topping:

1/2 cup cream
100g dark chocolate 60%, broken up
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Frangelico

Heat the cream (again you can do this in the microwave) add the chocolate and allow to sit for a few minutes. Whisk to combine the chocolate and cream then add the honey and Frangelico. Pour this delicious mixture all over the top of the tart. Don’t use anything to spread it. Just tip the tart around to spread the topping. This will result in a mirror like finish. Return to the refrigerator until set. Before serving decorate with fresh raspberries. r.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Dutch Donuts – The Last Daring Kitchen December Challenge

These donuts, Dutch Oliebollen, are the delicious last challenge in the Daring Kitchen community. Donuts are a traditional treat for New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands and I think, donuts are a great treat anytime.

The week since Christmas Eve has flown by and now we arrive at the end of 2016. I’m sad to say that this post also marks the end of Daring Kitchen, a wonderful online group of which I have been a part of since 2009.

It is because of the Daring Kitchen that I started this blog in the first place. And it is because of the Daring Kitchen that I even thought to attempt puff pastry, croissants and macarons, just to name a few. And it is because of the Daring Kitchen that my interest has been spurred in the the amazing baking traditions of many countries around the world, like the Esterhazy cake, Armenian nazook and speculaas. Within this amazing group I have found wonderful blogging friends and we developed a great baking camaraderie. So, today I bid a sad farewell to the Daring Kitchen.

This last challenge was hosted by the lovely Francijn Brouwer from the blog “Koken in de Brouwerij”. Francijn is from the Netherlands and this is the third time she has opened her kitchen and shown us her country’s wonderful baking traditions. Oliebollen are a traditional treat for New Year’s Eve in The Netherlands and there are mobile kitchen everywhere during winter selling these delicious Dutch donuts. The traditional oliebollen are made with apple and raisins. I also made a plain version which were injected with Nutella after frying. Thanks to Francijn, these donuts were a hit with my family!

Oblibollen – recipe courtesy of Francijn of “Koken in de Brouwerij”

300g / 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
200g / 1 1/2 cup plus 5 tsp all-purpose flour
10g / 3 tsp instant yeast
10g / 1 1/2 tsp salt
25g / 2 Tbsp caster sugar (white or light brown)
3g / 1/2 tsp cinnamon
150ml / 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp brown beer (room temperature)
175ml / 3/4 cup water (room temperature)
175ml / 3/4 cup milk (room temperature)
50g / 3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted but not hot)
1 small egg
200g (7 oz, or 1 1/3 cups) raisins (without clumps)
1 small apple or half a big apple (a firm variety)


1. In a large mixing bowl mix flours and yeast with a whisk.
2. Add salt, sugar and cinnamon, and mix again.
3. Add beer, water and milk (mind the room temperature), the melted butter, and the egg.
4. Attach the paddle to your mixer (or the dough hook, if you don’t have one) and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Go on until the dough becomes elastic, a few minutes.
5. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
6. In the meantime cut the apple in small cubes, as big as peas or beans.
7. Add raisins and apple to the dough, and mix well with a spatula.
8. Put a wet towel over the bowl, and let the dough rise for an hour, until is has nearly doubled in size.

9. In the meantime, put the oil in your deep fryer. Heat it to 180°C / 355°F.
10. Get ready for cooking: place a tray on the counter and cover it with two layers of paper towels. Have something ready to place your scoops on, to not cover your counter with grease. And have a timer handy, to track frying time.
11. Once the dough has doubled in size and the oil is hot, dip your ice scoop in the oil to avoid sticking, and fill it with dough, leveling it against the side of the bowl. Take care to include a reasonable amount of filling.
12. Release the doughball carefully into the oil, by sticking the scoop into the oil and pulling the lever. For now, don’t add more oliebollen. Start the timer.
13. Observe the behavior of the oliebol. It will start floating around, and after some time, it will turn over automatically. That way, in the ideal situation, it will brown on both sides. If the oliebol doesn’t turn over, help it when the frying time is halfway over, using a fork.
14. After five minutes of frying, take it out of the oil and put it on the tray with paper towel. Wait a minute, and then cut it through the middle with a sharp knife. Look at the center. Do you see raw dough? Then you should have cooked it longer. Do you see a bread-like texture? Then it is done, and you could even try to shorten the cooking time.
15. If you are satisfied with the texture? Then start again, but now with a few oliebollen at once. Are you not satisfied? Try again with a longer or shorter frying time.

16. Keep frying until there is no dough left, and make sure the oliebollen are all the same size, otherwise they will need different cooking times. Don’t forget to start the timer with each batch, and remember that the ones you put in first, should be taken out first.
17. Oliebollen are best when you eat them while they are still hot and crunchy. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and enjoy! They are still great at room temperature, but next day you will miss the crunchiness. This is how to reheat them: preheat the oven to 150-160°C / 300-320°F / Gas Mark 3, and heat the oliebollen for 5 minutes.

Mocha Cake with Coffee Liqueur Syrup and Chocolate Glaze

Mocha Cake with Coffee Liqueur Syrup and Chocolate Glaze.

Well that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? 

But when I came up with this cake that’s exactly what I wanted. This cake was for my sister’s birthday and the request was for a “simple chocolate cake”. The cooking and baking tradition in our family is never “simple”. We always like to stretch ourselves a bit. So it was never going to be a “simple chocolate cake”. However, it is a fairly basic cake. The tenderness comes from the sour cream, the hit of coffee and liqueur comes from the syrup and the glaze just adds to the chocolate element. 

Mocha Cake with Coffee Liqueur Syrup and Chocolate Glaze (adapted from The Perfect Pantry)

The Cake
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons espresso powder
125g butter
1 cup castor sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

The Syrup
100ml strong brewed coffee, hot
1/4 cup castor sugar
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used Tia Maria you could also use Kahlua)

The Glaze
100g dark chocolate,chopped
50g unsalted butter, chopped

Coffee beans to decorate

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 6 cup kugelhopf  pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. I like to sift the dry ingredients onto a sheet of baking paper…it keeps the washing up to a minimum!

 In a small bowl, mix the cocoa and instant espresso powder with 1 1/2 tablespoons of warm water. Stir until well combined and dissolved.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the vanilla. Alternately fold in the dry ingredients with the sour cream. When combined add in the cocoa/coffee mixture. Be gentle, don’t overmix. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

In the meantime prepare the syrup by combining all the ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Replace the cake into the pan and pour over the by-now cooled syrup. Allow to soak into the cake. This won’t take long, maybe 10-15 minutes.

Now is the time to prepare the glaze by heating the chocolate and butter over a double boiler or in the microwave on low stirring frequently until smooth.

Ready to assemble and eat! Place a serving plate over the cake pan and tip the cake onto the plate. This will catch any syrup that hasn’t absorbed. With a teaspoon drizzle the glaze over the cake and decorate with coffee beans.

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

Have you ever seen a cocoa tree? Or even a cocoa pod? Or followed the pod all the way to when it becomes a chocolate bar? Neither had I.
Chocolate is said to be the food of the gods and I can understand why.
So a few weeks ago we took a drive a couple of hours north to beautiful Mission Beach and particularly to Charley’s Chocolate Factory. A tour of the cocoa farm and and chance to taste awarding winning chocolate was just to good to pass up.

This is a beautiful part of north Queensland and the farm is set in a shallow valley not far from the ocean which make it a perfect micro climate to successfully grow cocoa trees.

Cocoa trees only grow in a very limited area within 20° either side of the Equator. 
In our part of the world we are subject to severe tropical cyclones which in recent years have decimated local crops. The clever people at Charley’s Chocolate farm have implemented a trellis system, training the trees to grow espaliered to the strong wires. It is hoped that this will save the trees during a violent cyclone. It appears this is having the added benefit of a very long, if not year round, harvest.

When we visited in October the trees had tiny flowers…

…as well as large pods of a variety of colours.
Great clumps of green pods.
And huge yellow….
… and purple pods ready to pick
The pods have a thick skin which encases the beans.

At Charley’s Chocolate Factory the washed beans are laid out in the hot sun to dry. 
Wonderful but imagine the panic as the afternoon storms roll in!

The tour is very informative and interesting but unlike other chocolate factories it doesn’t include a factory tour to see the chocolate being made.
But there is heaps of delicious tastings!
The ginger chocolate was my particular favorite!

And of course, at the end there is lots of chocolate to buy.

Charley’s Chocolate Factory is still in it’s infancy but to their credit they have won the 2016 Champion Chocolate Bar and Block at the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards.

If you find yourself in this part of the world, do book a tour and see for yourself.  Alternatively this wonderful chocolate is available online so do yourself a favour and order some today.

Nutella Puff Pastry Flower

Do you consider yourself a good baker? Or do all of those measurements and precision get to you?
If you fall into the latter, then this recipe is for you!
Read on and impress! 

First preheat you oven to 220C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
All you need is three sheets of frozen puff pastry. Allow  to thaw and use a large plate to cut a circle out of each of the sheets.  Start assembling on the lined baking tray. Spread one circle of pastry with Nutella, top with another pastry circle. Spread that one with Nutella and top with a pastry sheet. You will have two layers of Nutella and three layers of pastry.

Now take a glass and push it lightly into the centre. With a sharp knife cut first into quarters. Cut each quarter in half to make eighths then each of those in half to make sixteen cuts.

Lift each piece and twist twice. Yep, this bit gets messy! When you have finished, brush with egg wash.

 Bake for 20-30 minutes until well browned and puffed.

Dust with icing sugar and enjoy! 

Nutella Brownie Cups

Early on this year I saw these amazing cookie cups by Lindsay at Life Love and Sugar. Lindsay makes eleven different types of cookie cups – apple, lemon, fruit, peanut butter and snickers just to name a few. I thought these were a great idea and seemed a lot easier than make a delicate pastry, rolling it out and all the drama that goes with pastry. In this case, make a simple cookie-like dough, press into muffin pans, bake and fill. Perfect.

When I made these, I found that they were more like brownies so that’s what I named them. Also extra Nutella in the bottoms enhanced the Nutella experience!

Oh, and if you have a family anything like mine, protect your cooling cups.  I had to make another batch because they seemed to disappear from the wire rack as they cooled.

Nutella Brownie Cups adapted from Life Love and Sugar
makes 16

Printable recipe here

170g butter, room temperature
1 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornflour

Nutella Cheesecake Filling
280g Philly cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nutella, plus extra

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Coat 2 x 12 cup muffin (large cupcake) pans with nonstick cooking spray or butter well.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well to combine. Sift flour, baking soda and cornflour into butter mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix well. The mixture will be thick. Take about 2 tablespoons of the mixture, roll into a ball and press into muffin pans and up the sides a bit. You should get about 16. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. If they cups have puffed up, press down with the back of a teaspoon to form an indentation. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Nutella Cheesecake filling

Beat all the ingredients together until well mixed and smooth.

To assemble cups take a small spoonful of Nutella and spread onto the base of the cups. Pipe or spoon filling in and top with a raspberry. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Prepare to be inundated!

Hungarian Walnut Torte – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #41

Last month I celebrated a milestone – my 50th birthday! No tears here….50 years and alive and kicking is something joyous to celebrate.

A few months earlier I had noticed that the annual over 40’s cricket competition was scheduled for the same weekend as my birthday. My husband loves to play in the this competition still believing he is the talented cricketer he once was. The festivities start on Friday night and cricket is played all day Saturday and Sunday. There are plenty of refreshing beverages to be enjoyed over the very male dominated weekend. In the preceding weeks he gingerly asked me if  we were doing anything for my birthday “like going away or something? You know, it’s the over 40’s cricket comp that weekend?”. Not wanting to say no but thinking he would figure it out for himself I replied “I won’t stop you playing. You make the decision”. So he did make the decision and he did join the team. Let’s say I was not pleased.

Leading up to the weekend there were many training and fitness sessions. Fresh from training and on our way to church with our young adult children, my husband told us that the draw had been announced. “And we got the raw end of the deal, we have to play 3 games on Sunday! Well, I’m not playing next year!” he declared. I couldn’t believe it…this year was the year to not play…I would be 51 next year…it wouldn’t matter! By the time we walked into church we all had our feathers ruffled. And the priest began his sermon like this…”I’m going to tell you a story about a woman who was turning 50 in a few weeks…..” We all looked at each other in disbelief. To cut a long story short, the woman in the story had a bad heart, collapsed and was in hospital the day before her birthday. On waking the morning from her birthday she discovered that her husband made the ultimate sacrifice by giving her his heart. It’s just a story but the irony was not lost on us.

The day before my birthday I too got a surprise. Delivered to my workplace was gorgeous arrangement of 50 red roses! Ahhh, he does love me!

Has he redeemed himself? Yes, I think so.

My birthday fell on the long weekend of the Australia holiday of Labour Day. So on the Monday we hosted a small family barbecue in honour of my birthday and I made my cake.

In keeping with my endeavour to bake through the amazing cookbook by Greg Patent, A Baker’s Odyssey, I prepared the Hungarian Walnut Torte for the occasion of my 50th birthday. It was a fitting celebration cake.

Hungarian Walnut Torte (adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent)

dry breadcrumbs to dust the cake pans

340g walnuts, about 3 cups
85g fresh white breadcrumbs, about 1 1/2 cups loosely packed
12 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup castor sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
pinch salt

Mocha whipped cream
1/3 cup water
3 teaspoons instant espresso coffee ( I used Moccona)
1/3 cup castor sugar
3 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
85g dark chocolate

to decorate
walnuts and choc chips

 You will need 3 x 23cm/9inch  round cake pans. Adjust your racks so that you can fit in the 3 cake pans and then begin to heat the oven to 170C/340F. Butter the pans well, fit the bottom with a round of non stick baking paper, butter the paper and dust the pans with dry breadcrumbs.
Finely grind the walnuts. Greg Patent suggests a manual nut grinder of a Mouli grater, of which I have neither. So, second best is the food processor but be careful not to over process. Process in 3 batches adding a 1/3 of the breadcrumbs to each batch. Pulse until the nuts are powdery and fluffy. I think I over processed my first batch. The walnuts need to be as fine as possible but not pasty.

Using a stand mixer beat the yolks using a whisk attachment until thick and lemon coloured. Lower the speed on the mixer and gradually add 1/2 cup sugar. Return the speed to high and beat well for about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and the lemon zest then scrape this mixture into another large bowl. Wash the mixer bowl and whisk attachment. In the clean bowl whisk the egg white and salt until thickened and white. Gradually add the remaining sugar whisking until firm peaks form.
Sprinkle a quarter of the nut mixture and add a quarter of the white to the egg yolk mixture. Fold in very lightly to combine. It is ok if there are a few streaks of white – it’s better not to over beat.

Continue add the remaining nuts and whites in 3 batches, folding in gently until no whites show. No mixture should be light and airy.

Divide equally between the three prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Don’t overbake.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the mocha cream, heat the water, sugar and espresso powder in a pan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Combine the cream, syrup and vanilla in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment until cream thickens. Fold in the grated chocolate.
Place one layer of cake on a serving plate and spread over about 1 cup of cream, top with the second cake. Again use about 1 cup of cream to cover the top of the second cake and top with the last cake. Use the remaining cream to spread carefully around the top and sides. I had enough to pipe cream rosettes around the top edge and decorated it with walnuts and choc chips. Chill for several hours before serving.

Kouign amann

Isn’t it amazing the variety of recipes around the globe? Some are similar and some are very different. But each culture has their own unique way of preparing food. I particularly love that a baker can take baking basics such as flour, sugar, butter, eggs maybe a little yeast and create something which is totally their own.
This month in the Daring Kitchen we were challenged to prepare  kouign amann. Now this I had never heard of! According to our host,   Meredith. from The Poco Loco Olsons – “a kouign amann (prounounced “kwee-amahn”) is a round crusty pastry that originated in Brittany in roughly 1860. It is made with a bread dough that is laminated (think of a croissant or puff pastry) and then sprinkled with sugar before being cut into squares and baked in muffin tins”.
I decided mine could do with a square of chocolate in the middle. Yup, these are good. Very good!

Kouign amann

Servings: 12


300g/10 1/2 oz / 2 2/5 cups strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5g / 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast OR 6.75g / 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5g / 1 tsp salt
200ml / 6 3/4 fl oz / 4/5 cup warm water
25g / 1oz / 1 3/4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
250g / 9oz / 1 1/5 sticks / 1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, in a block
100g / 3 1/2 oz / scant 1/2 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling


1. Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.
NOTE: If using active dry yeast, activate it in the water for 5 minutes first.

2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.

3. Sandwich the butter between two sheets of grease-proof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14 cm / 5½” square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm / 8” square. Place the butter in the center of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough

 Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.

5. Roll the dough into a 45 x 15cm / 18 x 6” rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.

6. Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.

7. Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40 x 30cm / 16 x 12” rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with additional caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares. I added a small block of chocolate in the middle of each.

8. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover.

Sprinkle with additional caster sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.

9. Preheat oven to 220°C / 200°C (fan) / 425°F / Gas Mark 7. Bake the pastries for 30 – 40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.

10. Serve warm or cold.

Red Velvet 21st Birthday Cake

This month my daughter celebrated her 21st birthday. And my 18 year old son has graduated from high school and is embarking on a new beginning. Where has the time gone? I’m feeling a little melancholy but am so fortunate I have been able to spend so much time with my precious children. They have grown to be wonderful, sensitive young adults and I am very proud. It is now time for me to let go and allow them spread their wings. I know, that with God’s grace, they will accomplish what they set out to do with integrity and respect for themselves and others.

The 21st birthday celebration was an understated affair with a simple meal at our home on the front lawn with close family and friends. My daughter has always loved selecting a birthday cake and this one was no exception. It had to be red velvet, multi layered and decorated with lots of colour. And so it was.
Red velvet cake was layered with cream cheese Italian meringue buttercream and covered in dark chocolate ganache. It was a riot of colour with cherries, raspberries, blueberries,fresh roses and assorted sweets and biscuits to accompany the homemade decorations.  I made lots of little pink, orange and yellow meringues, red velvet macarons (recipe coming), honeycomb and sugar paste butterflies to decorate the cake.

The sugar paste butterflies are part of this month’s Daring Kitchen challenge hosted by  Shillpa Bhaambri from Cakeline the Journey. Shillpa challenged us to become cake designers using fondant, sugar paste or modeling chocolate to create a design for a cake or cupcake. As I already had a plan for this cake I decided I could incorporate the butterflies into the design. I used homemade sugar paste coloured pink, orange and yellow to cut out butterflies using a cutter. A piece of cardboard bent into shape and covered with non stick baking paper served to shape the butterflies.

After they dried overnight I used a little black colour thinned with vodka edge the wings. Then once that dried a sparkle dust dry brushed on lifted the colour of each butterfly. With a little royal icing (egg white and pure icing sugar) a thin wire was secured to the underside.

Happy birthday to my beautiful girl!

The red velvet cake is a recipe by one of my favourite bakers Summer from Cake Paper Party and the Italian meringue butter cream is by Warren Brown with my adaption of cream cheese.

Oreo Celebration Cake

A celebration always requires cake! 

I have been admiring cakes by a few amazing Australian bakers for some time. Katherine Sabbath, Cakes by Cliff and Unbirthday Bakery are creating amazing edible works of art.

So, as we prepared to celebrate my son’s 18th birthday my mind went to the cake! And my mind boggled over what to do….which cake to bake…how to decorate it…and the big question…would it work? On the other hand my son didn’t care much for the cake..”you can make whatever, Mum, I don’t eat the cake anyway”.

I had a couple of practice runs…testing cakes and frosting….then the day came. Summer from Cakes Paper Party  has some of the most delicious cake recipes I have ever tried. The end result was layers of chocolate and vanilla cake sandwiched with cream cheese Italian meringue buttercream (my favourite recipe by Warren Brown) and crushed oreos. Decorations included a chocolate sail and caramel popcorn.
And guess what?
The birthday boy was pretty impressed by the cake and….ate it too!

So to begin with…two layers of vanilla cake and two layers of chocolate cake. These recipe will make 3 layers of each. Freeze the extra layers for later.

Vanilla Cake recipe by Cake Paper Party

16 tablespoons (8 ounces, or 227 grams) unsalted butter softened
12 ounces (340 grams) castor sugar, (superfine)
4 tablespoons (60 mls) sunflower oil
4 large eggs
1 ½ tablespoon (23 milliliters) vanilla extract
6 ounces (170 grams) all-purpose flour
6 ounces (170 grams) cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups (300 mls) buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease and flour 3 8inch cake pans or line with baking paper.
Beat butter, sugar and oil for 2 minutes in a stand mixer then add eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture. Turn the mixer on and mix until just combined. Add the buttermilk and mix on medium speed for 1 minute.  Pour equally into the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Then allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rakes to finish cooling.

Chocolate cake by Cake Paper Party

4 ounces (114 grams) dark 70% chocolate, broken or coarsely chopped
4 ounces (120 mls) hot espresso

8 ounces (228 grams) unsalted butter, softened
14 ounces (396 grams) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ tablespoon (25 mls) vanilla extract
1 ½ ounce (45 grams)  cocoa powder
8 ounces (227 grams) all-purpose/plain flour
1 teaspoon (5mls) baking soda
½ teaspoon (3 mls) salt
8 ½ ounces (240 grams) sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease and flour 3 8inch cake pans or line with baking paper.
Mix the espresso with the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Microwave for a few seconds if the chocolate doesn’t melt. Set aside to cool to room temp. Beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes in a stand mixer then add eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients and add half to the butter mixture.  Turn the mixer on and mix until just combined. Add half of the sour cream and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream.  Pour equally into the prepared pans. Bake for 28-32 minutes. Then allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rakes to finish cooling.

Prepare Warren Browns Italian Meringue Buttercream
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup water
5 egg whites
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons

Boil 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water over medium heat until it reaches 245. As it cooks begin meringue so it’s ready when syrup is done.
Whip egg whites with a wire whisk in a stand up mixer on high until soft peaks form. About 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup sugar. Beat.
Slowly pour the hot syrup into the meringue steadily with the mixer still on high.
Beat the frosting for 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temperature.
Beat in butter by the tablespoon. The butter will deflate the frosting a bit.

To make the Cream cheese Oreo filling

Remove 2/3 of the buttercream and set aside. Take 250g cream cheese, soften and beat well until smooth. With the whisk attachment still attached whisk the cream cheese into the buttercream spoonful by spoonful.
Add 10 crushed oreos and mix in well.

Layer cakes and fill with cream cheese buttercream alternately vanilla cake and chocolate cake.Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes then crumb coat with reserved Italian meringue buttercream. Refrigerate again until firm.

Then frost with remaining buttercream. Crush a few more oreos to decorate the base of the cake. Refrigerate while you prepare the ganache.

Chocolate ganache

250g dark 70% chocolate, coarsely chopped
125ml cream
30g copha, melted

Heat the cream until bubbles form around the edges then pour over chocolate. Stir to melt. Then stir in melted copha. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Pour the ganache over the cake allowing it to drizzle over the edges (encourage drips with a teaspoon or pipe drips while the ganache is pourable).

Decorate as desired.

….hmmm, needs something?

…yes, I know…a dusting of gold powder.

Don’t you think layer cakes just scream celebration!